Berman & Asbel, LLP

Keep your estate plans in touch with the digital age

When most people first begin to address their estate plans, they often look at big assets like a home or their retirement account. While these are certainly important things to include in an estate plan, Pennsylvania readers should not forget about smaller matters that also have a big impact. For example, what will happen to your email account after you are gone?

Most people do not know the answer to this question, and that is why it is important to address with an estate planning professional. Service providers like Google or Facebook often include some sort of plan for disposing of an account after someone dies, but often there are no provisions granting access to an executor or administrator absent a specific instruction. As we all know, email accounts contain a lot of personal information, so it is important to pass access along to someone trustworthy who will use their judgment when exposing information to others.

Another consideration that many people have not addressed is the practical aspect of how to hand over passwords to surviving friends or family. Putting passwords to online bank accounts, brokerage accounts, email, or social media accounts in a will could put your family at risk, since wills become a part of the public record during the probate process. Instead, it is best to find a confidential but reliable way to pass along that information when the time is right.

One possibility for accomplishing this is through a letter held in the same location as the will, or stored with an appointed fiduciary like a trustee.


Source: Wall Street Journal, "Do You Know Who Will Inherit Your Twitter Account?" Arden Dale, Sept. 18, 2013. 

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